ITA Airways’ A320 Business Class: Not So Great

ITA Airways’ A320 Business Class: Not So Great

31

Hello from Cairo, as I’m currently on a review trip! After flying ITA Airways’ A350 business class from Miami to Rome, and visiting the ITA Airways Lounge Rome, I flew ITA Airways’ A320 business class from Rome to Cairo. While the transatlantic flight on ITA exceeded my expectations, the short haul flight left a bit to be desired.

ITA Airways’ no frills A320 business class

I knew my flight would be operated by a narrow body jet, and as is standard in Europe, this consists of economy seats at the front of the cabin with a blocked middle seat.

ITA Airways A320 business class cabin

On the plus side, unlike some other airlines nowadays, the center seat had a tray on it, which is something I quite appreciate, since it’s an easy place to put something without having your own tray out. However, I think that was more a function of seemingly nothing having been changed about this cabin in the past decade.

ITA Airways A320 business class empty center seat

My flight was operated by a 23-year-old Airbus A320, and the only thing new about it was the ITA Airways livery. Everything else about it was Alitalia. There was no Wi-Fi or streaming entertainment, there were no power outlets, there were no pillows or blankets, and there wasn’t even a curtain that covered the aisle between business class and economy class (which meant people would come up from economy to use the forward lavatory).

Like I said, I have pretty low expectations of short haul business class in Europe. It’s not that this was terrible, it’s just that there was little good about it, unlike on the transatlantic flight.

At least the food was reasonably tasty

As you’d expect from an Italian airline, at least the food was quite decent on this 2hr40min flight. There was the choice of veal or ravioli with ricotta and spinach. I chose the latter, which was tasty enough. It was served with an interesting side salad, a roll, and a dessert with a chocolate tart and some cream.

ITA Airways business class meal

However, for whatever reason there was no glassware? I’m not sure why ITA Airways is serving drinks in cups in business class? Is this standard, or was something off about my flight?

Bottom line

While ITA’s new A350 long haul product is great, the short haul product leaves a bit to be desired. I’d say the airline offers above average food, while everything else was below average, ranging from the amenities, to the lack of power ports and Wi-Fi, to the use of plastic cups for drinks.

There’s ultimately not a lot of differentiation between airlines on short haul flights to & from Europe (well, unless you’re flying Turkish Airlines), but ITA definitely doesn’t go out of its way to be special on these flights, unlike across the Atlantic.

What do you make of ITA’s A320 business class?

Conversations (31)
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  1. lasdiner Guest

    Ben could have commented ‘not that bad’ based on other factors such as food and ease if connection on FCO, which are superior to equivalent a320 connection flights say, from AF or BA
    But he chose to say ‘nit that great’
    Its a grey area
    I suspect the verdict also might have to do with whether he gets a freebie or a royal treatment as a famous blogger. If he was schmoozed...

    Ben could have commented ‘not that bad’ based on other factors such as food and ease if connection on FCO, which are superior to equivalent a320 connection flights say, from AF or BA
    But he chose to say ‘nit that great’
    Its a grey area
    I suspect the verdict also might have to do with whether he gets a freebie or a royal treatment as a famous blogger. If he was schmoozed by the crew and ground personnel, who knows his verdict could’ve been different. It’s human
    I can see how Italians wouldn’t give much importance and actually would penalize and even ridicule American bloggers. Hence the reviews that some high end establishments tend to get in Italy, where a traveller with personal connections and family ties can be far more considered than one with a shiny credit card and a camera for vlogging

  2. David Hawkins Guest

    If you are paying €50 for a seat in economy you can most certainly do without a usb charger and much else. But if you pay €350 for a business class seat especially if like me it comes out of my own pocket then I expect a better standard of service. My impression is that airlines are trying to offer us a low cost product for a business class fare. Aer Lingus is one of...

    If you are paying €50 for a seat in economy you can most certainly do without a usb charger and much else. But if you pay €350 for a business class seat especially if like me it comes out of my own pocket then I expect a better standard of service. My impression is that airlines are trying to offer us a low cost product for a business class fare. Aer Lingus is one of the worst offenders. You would most certainly complain if a four star hotel offered you a bed in a shared dormitory. Same applies to airlines.

  3. stogieguy7 Gold

    I don't get the tone of the article here; it's standard Eurobusiness and European business class absolutely sucks and is a massive ripoff. This is true of most major Euro airlines who engage in the practice of selling economy seats as "business class". And it doesn't look like ITA's offering is any worse than their peers. If anything, it looks better than the likes of LH or BA as far as their Euro (faux) Business...

    I don't get the tone of the article here; it's standard Eurobusiness and European business class absolutely sucks and is a massive ripoff. This is true of most major Euro airlines who engage in the practice of selling economy seats as "business class". And it doesn't look like ITA's offering is any worse than their peers. If anything, it looks better than the likes of LH or BA as far as their Euro (faux) Business class is concerned. How Europeans tolerate this is beyond me, btw.

    1. VladG Diamond

      I also wonder how Americans tolerate paying 3-4x the economy fare for something the airlines have the gall to call "First class" which doesn't even grant you fast track security or lounge access. But here we are.

    2. stogieguy7 Gold

      It's business class, but with the original name given to it by people in the nation that was first in powered flight. And it kicks ass over a 28-inch pitch economy seat that's sold for more than double the economy fare but marketed as "business".

  4. Alistair Guest

    I remember flying Alitalia intra Europe for business years ago and they let one of those passengers from behind the curtain stomp up the aisle like a bull in a china shop, knocking my hand and vino into my neighbors chest and then proceeding to lock the lav door for the next 20 mins and release the most pungent smell of deep refried beans you could imagine. The first row had to have their seats...

    I remember flying Alitalia intra Europe for business years ago and they let one of those passengers from behind the curtain stomp up the aisle like a bull in a china shop, knocking my hand and vino into my neighbors chest and then proceeding to lock the lav door for the next 20 mins and release the most pungent smell of deep refried beans you could imagine. The first row had to have their seats reallocated, my neighbor stripped and wrapped in a blanket and the lav caution sealed until landing in Frankfurt. It’s reckless behavior on behalf of the cabin crew not to enforce the rule of using the restroom according to your class.

    1. Petri Diamond

      It is obvious that, that passenger had no class.

  5. Alan Guest

    Seems pretty standard intra-Europe flight to me, no WiFi or power on most of them and at least the seat was decent. I certainly wouldn't say it was bad from the photos/review - if anything slightly above average!

    1. riku Guest

      The seat looks like the lufthansa short haul seat from about 10 years ago. LH changed (for the worse) to even thinner seats and the ultra slim seats are not thick enough for the flip down middle seat table anymore.

    2. Anameofaguy Guest

      I much prefer those thin seats! As a large person but not a "passenger of size", the padded seats get deformed and my butt slides into the divot, pressing my knees against the seat in front and giving me a back ache.

  6. Donna Diamond

    I flew AlItalia frequently from Rome to Catania over the last 20 years, usually in Economy. For a short flight and the fact that there are great food options on each end of these round trips in flight meals weren’t a goal. And economy was never full so it’s a much better value in the back.

  7. RobASFO Guest

    Geez, it's a 3 hour flight, is it really that much of a hardship to be without wifi r a power source for 3 hours?!

    1. betterbub Diamond

      Depends on what the competition can do. I wouldn't have complained 15 years ago

    2. Andy Diamond

      True, but in Europe most airlines have no power outlets (or only USB). So ITA has no competitive pressure in this respect.

  8. PabloF New Member

    The picture of the meal on this flight (Ravioli with tomato sauce) brought me back memories of the many flights I had taken with Alitalia (until reaching the “Freccia Alata Plus per Sempre” status (i.e. lifetime status of the highest tier of their FFP - after 10 consecutive years). I must say that, for someone grown-up in Italy, that pasta dish always left me unimpressed: not even graded Parmesan cheese was ever served with it....

    The picture of the meal on this flight (Ravioli with tomato sauce) brought me back memories of the many flights I had taken with Alitalia (until reaching the “Freccia Alata Plus per Sempre” status (i.e. lifetime status of the highest tier of their FFP - after 10 consecutive years). I must say that, for someone grown-up in Italy, that pasta dish always left me unimpressed: not even graded Parmesan cheese was ever served with it. At least, in the Alitalia era, there were proper glasses in shot-haul business class flights!

  9. Kevan Guest

    Is Cairo 'within Europe 'when I last went,Air France as I recall about 2008,it was Africa!

  10. FlyLots Guest

    Honestly “terrible flight, but the food was actually not bad” is how I described Alitalia for years. Sounds like none of that has really changed.

  11. Debo Gold

    Flying FCO-CTA next month with my wife and infant daughter. This post validates my decision to just fly economy. Even the mild premium in cost for their short haul business class surely isn’t worth it. (Especially on a one hour domestic flight)

    1. Mick Guest

      Definitely economy the way to go here. Although perks of the premium include better check in and security which helps with travelling with kids. Although in Europe they’re far better at family check in and security lanes.

  12. Julia Guest

    "there wasn’t even a curtain that covered the aisle between business class and economy class"

    Includes a picture of the cabin with a curtain...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Julia -- The curtain was only above the rows of seats, and not in the aisle. Many airlines in Europe have curtains that also cover the aisle, so that it's clear to passengers that they shouldn't come up to use the forward lavatory. That wasn't the case here.

    2. Julia Guest

      There are many that are now also using this type of curtain as well.

    3. Big AL Guest

      Calm down Karen.

      Take a seat.

    4. Julia Guest

      Relax Sant…er, Big AL. Not a Karen and I was calm. Unless you were referring to Lucky, which is just as rude.

    5. Big AL Guest

      take a pill Karen. chill

    6. Julia Guest

      The only "Karen" who need to chill here is you

  13. david Guest

    "As you’d expect from an Italian airline"

    How many Italian airlines are there that serve good enough food that this can be expected from Italian airlines in general?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ david -- Well, it was true of Alitalia, and it was true of Air Italy. Italian airlines don't have a great success rate with staying in business, but I've found all three of them to have great meals. ;-)

    2. kimshep Guest

      Regarding the 'longevity' comment:

      Given Alitalia was founded in 1946 and was one of Europe's oldest airlines until its bankruptcy, I find this remark an odd one to make.

    3. Matrix.RX1 Guest

      in the last 45 years of operation, Alitalia made a profit in only 3 years, so longevity perhaps, but artificially so.

    4. Klaus Guest

      Air Dolomiti is great when it comes to catering

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Julia -- The curtain was only above the rows of seats, and not in the aisle. Many airlines in Europe have curtains that also cover the aisle, so that it's clear to passengers that they shouldn't come up to use the forward lavatory. That wasn't the case here.

4
Kevan Guest

Is Cairo 'within Europe 'when I last went,Air France as I recall about 2008,it was Africa!

3
betterbub Diamond

Depends on what the competition can do. I wouldn't have complained 15 years ago

2
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